I nod, wishing I didn’t have such mixed feelings about talking to him. I feel horrendously disloyal, but I just can’t seem to shake off this almost magnetic desire for Jenny.
We walk down to the beach together, making small talk and studiously ignoring the unspoken topic that is creating a burning tension between us. Perhaps spending time with her was a mistake. Being close to her, smelling the scent of her fragrance and watching the sunlight shine off her long dark hair, is doing nothing to cool the flames of my desire for her.
We pass a couple on the way down to the beach and they smile at us. It occurs to me that they probably assume Jenny and I are a couple too, and the thought sends a ripple of pleasure through me that I’m too scared to examine.
As we walk down the sandy steps towards the beach I slip on the steps and Alex reaches out and grabs my arm. His touch sends a thrill through me like an electric shock and I stare at him as I right myself, my heart suddenly hammering in my chest as I realize how close we are to each other. It reminds me of the charged moment before our kiss yesterday and for a split second I think he’s going to kiss me again. My lips part in anticipation.
But instead he drops my arm abruptly and steps back, his expression wary.
“Yes, sorry. These sandals weren’t the best idea.”
We carry on walking as if the moment never happened and it just fuels my frustration. I want him so badly that all my senses are attuned to his every movement, his every look, and the rest of the world around us just fades into the background. He’s fighting this, and as much as that is all very honorable it’s starting to wear thin already. I know he wants me too, I can see it in his eyes every time he looks at me, and I wish he would just give in to the feelings that are clearly consuming us both.
But he doesn’t. As we reach the sand he walks slightly ahead towards the edge of the waves where the boat hire is, attended by a dark haired man who looks bored as hell.
“Have you ever jet skied?” Alex asks me. I shake my head.
“No. I don’t know why. I come here nearly every summer,” I laugh.
“I think you’ll love it,” he says and I nod. I do like trying new things, and any experience with Alex is going to be exciting. We book in for an hour’s time and then walk a little further up the beach and pick a spot. Although it’s still not even midday the sun is sweltering and the beach is filling up fast. I slip out of my sundress, revealing a matching white bikini underneath and feel disappointed when Alex immediately whips his head around to face the other way. I want him to look at me the way he did yesterday, before he knew who I was, but it appears it isn’t going to happen. I lie back on my beach towel, pulling my sunglasses down over my eyes, and try and relax and enjoy the sun. Next to me Alex pulls a book out of his bag.
“What are you reading?” I ask.
“A crime thriller, they’re kind of my guilty pleasure.”
“I love crime thrillers,” I say. We seem to have so much in common, he’s perfect for me. It’s such a cruel twist of fate that he is who he is. Completely unfair, in fact. I turn my face back to the sun and let him read.
A few minutes later sand lands on me, startling me. I open my eyes and my stomach falls as I see three young men walking past, leering at me.
Brad. I bet it was him who kicked the sand.
Alex puts his book down slowly and glares at them. I see Brad blanch slightly but he retains his cocky expression. Clearly he has more confidence with a few friends to back him up. Coward.
“Are you going to apologize for that?” Alex says in a voice that is deceptively calm, although his eyes are like flint. Brad and his friends continue walking, but I notice they speed up slightly.
“It was an accident,” Brad shrugs as they walk away. Alex sits glaring at them until they’re gone all the way down the beach, then turns to me.
“That guy has a real issue with the fact that you rejected him,” he says. “Keep away from him, he’s not someone you would want to come across on your own.”
“He’s just a spoiled little rich boy,” I say, not wanting to seem concerned in front of Alex, but I know he’s right. Brad makes me feel uncomfortable.